How to beat prickly heat with iVillage UK
Members of the iVillage.co.uk Community swap treatment ideas and advice on how to control the irritating skin condition .
When I go abroad I always get prickly heat rashes. I always thought this was because it was so hot, until I recently went to Lanzarote, where it was only mid-70s, and it still happened! The rash at the top of my thighs swells up so much that it makes it difficult for me to walk. I also get it at the top of my arms and, in extreme heat, all over my torso!
Miliaria rubra, otherwise known as prickly heat, is caused by blocked sweat ducts preventing the skin from regulating it's own temperature effectively.
My daughter used to get it quite badly and I always covered her in high factor sunscreen, she wore a hat, and I kept her clothed. I also gave her Piriton in liquid form - that acts like an antihistamine. My mum used to get it, too, and the doctor told her to use a total sun block. I couldn't understand how covering the skin in a heavy cream would help a condition caused by blocked sweat ducts, but it did work.
I have had the same condition when I'm on holiday. My Doctor told me to try taking antihistamine tablets for two weeks before, during and after the holiday, and that has made a huge difference.
When on holiday, I keep cool and limit sunbathing to hourly intervals. I also stay out of the sea, as I've found the saltwater makes it worse. The prickly heat isn't actually caused by the sun, but by your sweating. So lots of dips in water and swimming will help. Also try water spritz sprays or a trigger bottle filled with water, to cool down your skin while you are in the sun. I like Paul Mitchell's Awapuhi Moisture Mist. It's also great for your hair and skin, and smells fresh too!
Try using Aloe Vera gel. I used it when I went to Sri Lanka a few years back; the locals were shocked by how bad my prickly heat was and advised me to use it. Its very soothing until your antihistamine tablet kicks in.
Be careful in places like Lanzarote or the Canary Islands, as they tend to have a breeze pretty much all the time, which brings the clouds in. This can be deceiving because you're still being exposed to the sun, so make sure you keep topped up with high SPF cream.
I first got prickly heat in Bulgaria when I was 16. The woman who cleaned our room gave me a bucket of yoghurt to put all over the rash. It worked a treat, but was a bit messy! I also use Eumovate, which you can get at your chemist. My problem actually gets worse when I use suntan lotion because I have eczema, so I tend to avoid the sun altogether.
I used to get prickly heat a lot when I was younger but now I just make sure I use the highest factor sunscreen there is. I've stopped using the local high street brands, as some of the ingredients they put in them actually irritate sensitive skin and make the problem worse. For the past three years I have resorted to using products that have more of a natural ingredient in them, such as Clarins, Decleor and Elemis.
Remember to re-apply your sunscreen every couple of hours, because sweating washes the products off the skin, even water resistant and waterproof products. This also applies to swimming and bathing; as soon as you come out of the water you should re-apply sun cream. Finally, you should replace sun skin care products every year, because the ingredients slowly deteriorate once the package is opened - by next year, the product will have lost its main properties and your skin will suffer.